89 – An Open Letter to Laymen from a Pastor about Men’s Ministry
I would like to get some things off my chest. Since I could never say this to my own men (and survive), I will say it to you. I offer these thoughts humbly.
Frankly, I get scared when some of my men get all excited and start talking men’s movement lingo like father wound, masculinity, etc.
What usually happens is that the least respected men in the church-the ones who talk about Jesus all the time but can’t keep a job-“take over” the men’s ministry. No one would follow them on a bet-I know I wouldn’t want to be in a small group they led.
So, frankly, it’s just easier for me to let them do what they want. I want to help them, but in my heart I don’t really think they have what it takes, and they will eventually peter out and I’ll be back to normal. Don’t get me wrong. I love them. But they need to be the ministerees, not the ministers.
Honestly, it’s just easier for me to let them run their course than be against them. I have no confidence that they will be able to pull it off. It poses very little risk to me to let them do their own thing, but I certainly don’t think they will succeed.
WHAT I CAN GET BEHIND
I’ll tell you what I can get behind. I can get behind a disciple-making plan that men I respect are personally involved with.
Let me tell you a secret. If you really want to get me involved, here’s what you would do. You would find about 6 to 12 of the most respected men in the church-normal guys. Invite them to a meeting to explore and pray about reaching more men for Christ. Give me a heads up “before” this exploratory meeting so I’m not feeling blindsided. Don’t try to take it too fast. Pray a lot.
Don’t be afraid to ask men for a big commitment. Jesus motivated men not by the promise of great rewards, but great obstacles. When polar explorer Ernest Shackleton needed men to step up for his expedition, he ran this advertisement:
MEN WANTED for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness,
constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
5,000 men responded for the 27 available positions.
Once you have some men willing to make a go of it, then come see me. Please. When you do come to me, don’t act like you’re the first ones who ever thought of reaching the men in our church. I’ve beaten my head against that wall for years trying to get men more involved.
Give me space-time to process how it would work. Don’t try to “close” me right away. Everyone thinks if they just lean on me hard enough then their program can go. Show me some stats, build the case, why should I add or change my existing focus?
Ask me how ministry to men can help me. Find out what I think are the problems our men face as husbands, fathers, workers, churchmen, and men in general. I pick up quite a lot, you know, in the course of a day.
And come see me before you have the whole program designed-I may want to be involved to make sure the program meshes with our vision and other church ministries. Besides, I probably can make a unique contribution as the pastor.
We can meet and discuss why we need to reach men, how men in our church are doing, what kind of men we want to produce, what will constitute success for us, and how we will measure progress. (Note: Man in the Mirror’s Men’s Ministry Action Plan is a 3 week guide to help organize an effective ministry to men).
Make it easy for me to support a ministry to our men. Talk about getting men into small groups to study the Bible. Talk about helping men understand the gospel. Talk about how we can build men up as Godly men for the home, church, workplace, and community. Talk about integrating men into the existing ministries of the church.
You have no idea how much I want to serve God and have a successful ministry. I got into this field because I sensed a calling from God to make a difference for the gospel of Jesus.
The other day someone asked, “Why don’t you care about the men in our church?” Why would they think that? It hurts when people question my motives.
I work hard to be an effective leader. The demands are unbelievably diverse-and they excite me. I love the variety of public communication, private counseling, leading a staff, inspiring volunteers, administrating an organization, marriages, baptisms, funerals, committee meetings, and more.
My own family, to my shame, often takes second place. What I find is that people want me to lead a balanced life and take care of my own needs in “principle.” But in “practice,” when it’s their mother in the hospital, their vision for the church, or their child who needs confirmation training, they really expect me to drop everything else and pay attention to them. I can’t blame them; I’m sure I’d be the same way.
You have no idea how hard it is to balance everyone’s requests. Here’s what I see happening: A man brings me an idea, but often acts like I had nothing else in the whole world to do but drop everything and embrace his idea, which he did not do a very good job explaining, nor did he do his homework, nor did he find others who would support his idea, nor does he have a plan. In fact, what he really wants is to dump the whole idea in my lap and be done with it. He thinks I’m the professional so it’s my job. Are you surprised that a pastor would speak so bluntly? Don’t be. We are men too, and we all feel this way sometimes.
You have no idea how many people let me down. Thank God, I have a handful of people who, when they tell me they will get something done, I can bank it. But for the most part I have not found people to be very dependable. It’s as though their word to the church is the first thing that gets cut. Even that wouldn’t bother me so much if they would just tell me. As it is, most of the non-performers don’t tell me until the day they were supposed to be finished.
So, please keep me in your prayers. Think the best of my motives. Help me see that you are really serious about reaching our men. Show me that you don’t start something, then dump it into my lap.
And by the way, you will have more clout with me if I see that you have a track record of actually ministering to men yourself.
So, I’m excited about what we could do together that we could never do alone. When can we get together?
- Does your church need a more effective disciple-making ministry to men, and why or why not?
- Why do you think many people expect the pastor to be the one to do the ministry?
- Pastors, does this article accurately reflect how you feel, and why or why not?
- Laymen, which of the offenses mentioned have you been guilty of, and why?
- What would be a practical “next step” for you to take if you want a disciple- making ministry to men in your church?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
©2001. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved. This may be reproduced with proper attribution for non-commercial purposes.